Defibrillators planned for Coral Gables campus

When a School of Communication administrator collapsed during a staff meeting and stopped breathing in August, no one in the room knew how to perform CPR.

As a result, hope rested with Leslie Foote, a senior called out of class several minutes after Gonzalez fell to resuscitate her.
Gonzalez, who was 45 and had a family history of heart disease, passed away six days later.

Around the same time as Gonzalez’s death, university officials had started looking into installing automated external defibrillators (AED), which are portable devices that apply electrical therapy to the chest in order to reestablish a regular heartbeat.

Kenneth Capezzuto, director of Environmental Health and Safety, said the university was prompted to install the devices after Aug. 17, when the city of Coral Gables passed an ordinance requiring defibrillators in public areas. The required locations include buildings larger than 20,000 square feet, restaurants with more than 100 chairs and assembly halls that seat more than 50 people.

Capezzuto said the university plans to start installing the cabinets, which will house the defibrillators, in November, but the actual defibrillators cannot be activated until they are inspected by the Coral Gables Fire Department.

The buildings expected to house the devices have already been chosen, and the university has to complete installation by February, according to the deadline set by the Gables ordinance.

Still, Student Government President Danny Carvajal said he did not want to wait that long.

“Jackie Gonzalez’s death really hit home for me,” Carvajal said, noting that Gonzalez was the mother of one of his friends. “This made me want to speed up the process.”

The SG Senate passed two recommendations in September regarding AEDs.

The first suggests making the devices accessible on the Coral Gables campus. The second, if passed, would require CPR/AED training for all University of Miami faculty, staff and administrators, said SG Senate Speaker Brandon Gross.

The university plans to purchase about 60 AEDs from the Cardiac Science Corporation, chosen from a list of devices approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

“We didn’t go by price alone, we went by use,” Capezzuto said regarding the fact that the AEDs the university selected are more expensive, but easy to operate.

The defibrillators will cost about $1,500 including the cabinet installation and other accessories. Because the university is purchasing the devices in bulk, the price will be discounted to about $1,300 per device.

Although the medical campus is not required to install AEDs because it is not located in Coral Gables, the university still plans to install nine defibrillators in the Gordon Cardiac Center at the Miller School of Medicine.

The Rosentstiel campus, also outside the Gables, has no plans to install AEDs, Capezzuto said.

The specific model identified for purchase, the Powerhearts G3 Plus, has a battery life of seven years. It automatically shocks the patient and coaches the aid through the CPR procedure by explaining the necessary hand placement and treatment pace.
“It is the easiest AED to use in the industry,” said Craig Coldwell, local representative for Cardiac Science.

In addition to defibrillator installation, Capezzuto said he is trying to lower the $15 cost of CPR classes at the Wellness Center in the hope of increasing the number of trained students.

Classes are offered two or three times a month, with about 12 people participating in each.

Capezzuto said he is also trying to compose an AED guide to add to the university’s Web site.

Although certain buildings, such as the Wellness Center and the Department of Public Safety, already have defibrillators installed, there was no discussion of campus-wide installation until the Coral Gables ordinance and the SG recommendations.

“We just lost our boss,” said Cindy Morales, a staff associate at the School of Communication, who worked for Gonzalez for about five years. “It may have been helpful to have AEDs on campus.”

Karyn Meshbane contributed to this article.

Nicole Alibaylof may be contacted at

Defibrillator Facts

 The cabinets housing the devices will have an audio alarm, which will sound when the cabinet is opened.

 There are plans to look into having the cabinets hard-wired to the public safety dispatch.
 Total purchase and installation will cost about $100,000.

 Training is not required right now, but people who work in campus buildings on a regular basis “most likely” be trained, said Kenneth Capezzuto, director of Environmental Health and Safety.

Buildings to house AEDs on the Coral Gables campus

Tennis Center, Rathskeller, Student Health Center, the Residential Colleges, Ring Theater, Gusman, Allen Hall, Knight Physics Building, Jenkins Building in the School of Business, law library, Cox Science Building, Smathers, BankUnited Center, UC, Hecht Athletic Center, both dining halls, Max Orvitz building, Ashe, Lowe, The University Village, Memorial classroom building and all police vehicles

– Karyn Meshbane

November 1, 2007


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